DNA Evidence Links Occupy Wall Street Protest to 2004 Unsolved Murder [UPDATE]

An 8-year-old unsolved murder case has an unexpected break: Authorities have linked DNA found at the scene of a March Occupy Wall Street protest to the 2004 murder of Juilliard student Sarah Fox.

On the morning of March 28th this year, a group affiliated with Occupy Wall Street chained open more than 20 subway gates around New York City to give commuters free rides. During its investigation into the vandalism, NYPD tested DNA found on a chain used to open a gate at a station in Flatbush, Brooklyn. They found it matched a sample from a pink CD player belonging to Sarah Fox, a 21-year-old Juilliard student whose naked body was found in Inwood Hill Park after disappearing during a jog, according to NBC New York. The CD player was found in the woods near her body.

There is no evidence that the matching DNA found on the chain belongs to one of the protesters who put it there, but police have no doubt redoubled their efforts to track them down. An MTA surveillance camera captured two black-clad men wearing medical face masks and goggles as they chained the gate and posting flyers which advertised a free ride. Who are they?

Back in March, a group called The Rank and File Initiative took responsibility for the subway protest in a press release widely distributed on anarchist and Occupy Wall Street-affiliated websites. "About 60" people were involved in the March 28th action, According to Truthout, which spoke to one of the Rank and File organizers. The organizer told Truthout participants included "working class people, many rank and file union members, some who work for unions, some marginal or precariously employed workers and some students."

The incident also shows that the NYPD apparently tests even very minor crime scenes for DNA evidence. New York loves DNA evidence: Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed expanding New York's DNA database to include those convicted of any crime in New York city, even if it's as minor as graffiti or palm-reading. We'll probably be seeing a lot more stories like this in the future.

Update: Well, now the New York Times raises the possibility that the apparent DNA link was the result of contamination by a forensics lab employee. That would be a pretty dumb mistake, if true! (The Medical Examiner's office contends it's ruled out contamination as an explanation.)